Saturday, 26 March 2011

Getting Ready

Bike Loaded 2

There's a hell of a lot of work and preparation to do before you even feel like being ready for any kind of trip let alone a trip across the world! Here's a brief run through of some of the things I've done, bought, bodged and worked on to try and get to a point where I feel a bit more comfortable with what I'm doing.

One of the first things I wanted to get sorted out on the bike was power for charging things like iPod, phone, camera, computer etc. I originally thought that everything may have to go through an inverter, that's how stupid I am. It turns out that just about every single device has a cigarette socket charger available, so it was just a case of fitting a cigarette lighter socket for such devices to plug into. The standard socket on a BMW is the smaller socket commonly known as a Powerlet socket, my beemer has one of those, but in the southern hemisphere the Powerlet plugs aren't that common. The BMW has a C-bus electrical system which doesn't have fuses, if any part of the system overloads it simply shuts that part of the system down until the ignition is reset, then the computer will check the system and if all is OK it will supply power to the previously affected circuit. I wanted to run my cabling through a fuse box so that should I have any problems it would not affect the C-Bus electrical system at all. So I bought a Centech fuse box and set about fitting it. This wasn't that easy as there is not a lot of available space, but with a bit of modification to the fuse box and a fair bit of fiddling, I managed to get it mounted perfectly below the tool tray under the seat. This is a well protected area which isn't subjected to much moisture.

Wiring to fusebox

The above image shows how the tool tray looks from the top with the cigarette lighter socket laying in wait. The power supply for the fuse box comes from the battery but is fed through the relay, the relay is powered from the tail light power supply which is switched on by the ignition, so the fuse box is not powered until the ignition is switched on. The wiring runs down the left hand frame rail with enough cable not tied to the frame to allow the tool tray to be lifted out, as shown in the next image, to allow access to connect other items like the front powerlet socket. The next image shows the fuse box which is fastened directly underneath the tool tray, with not the slightest margin for error, otherwise the tool tray will not sit down on the frame rails correctly. As you can probably tell, I'm quite chuffed with the way all this turned out, I even sourced cloth tape similar to what BMW use to bind the cables.


The next thing I needed to do was provide a power supply to the front of the bike, so that I could get power into the tank bag to run or charge other items. This was a lot easier now that the fuse box was done, it was just a matter of running cable and connecting it to the fuse box. I intended the front power socket to be a normal sized cigarette socket, which is the size of hole I cut through the body work. But when I came to feed the socket through the bodywork and the chassis rail below, I found that I couldn't get the bloody nut on the back of it because of the chassis rail, bollocks! So I had to settle for the smaller powerlet socket, but this turned out to be a more suitable solution. I sourced the powerlet port for the tank bag from, who supply all kinds of useful powerlet items. The smaller angled powerlet plug and cable that feeds the tank bag port has a lower profile so stays well below the handlebars when on full lock. It turned out to be a blessing that the cigarette lighter socket wouldn't fit and I had to use the powerlet stuff.

Tank Bag Electrics 2
Front Powerlet feed to tankbag port

But as you will see from the next image, the power sockets the other side of the tank bag port are cigarette lighter sockets, allowing all of my charging devices to work. All of the cables can be unplugged from the tank bag port and replaced with different fittings should it be necessary, but this configuration worked out perfectly for me. 

Tank Bag Sockets

So that's about it for the electrics, apart from running a lighting cable to the compass, but I only did that because the compass has a light, I have no plans to ride at night unless it's absolutely necessary.

The following images show the ridiculously expensive, but sometimes well made, Touratech protection equipment that I purchased in the hope that should the need arise, the equipment will be there to save the day. The images are labelled with what the product is, but this first image shows one of my favourite bits simply because it is so well made, and if you need to take it off because the country doesn't allow headlight covers of any kind, you simply pull the front grille out of the rubber mounts!

Touratech Headlight Guard
Removable headlight protector

Drive Shaft Bobbin
Drive shaft bobbin

ESA Guard Rear
ESA guard, rear

ESA Guard Front
ESA guard, front

I'm pretty sure that an absolutely bog standard bike would make it back to the UK without spending money on protective equipment, but you're always thinking "what if"? But if I get it all back to the UK in pristine condition, it can go on eBay for someone else to use on their trip.

And then there's the luggage. While researching for this trip, I have read and heard all kinds of comments about what to take and how to carry it, and nearly everyone says they take too much stuff and end up dumping it or sending it back home. So I've tried to be very selective about what I'm taking with me. I've done a couple of practice runs, and there will be more I'm sure, but I feel reasonably confident that I have all that I need and can carry it comfortably. As you can see in the top picture, I am using BMW aluminium panniers, Touratech tank bag and an XL Ortlieb waterproof holdall. At present all the camping gear, including tent, air matress, sleeping bag, stove etc. and tools fit in the left hand pannier, which is the smaller of the panniers because of the exhaust cut-out. Clothes, toiletries, insulin etc. are in the right hand pannier and at this stage there's plenty of spare room. The Ortlieb bag will be used hold the riding gear when not in use, riding jacket, pants, boots, gloves etc., I'll be the first to admit that I will not be riding in full riding gear all the time, especially when it's bloody hot. In the tank bag will be computer, paperwork, passports, visas etc. etc. I have a PacSafe helmet holder that will keep my helmet secure on the bike, and I have a PacSafe mesh that will keep the Ortlieb bag safe on the bike. So all being well, the only piece of luggage that I will have to take off the bike and keep with me is the tank bag and I don't mind that considering the contents!

The panniers have RKA pannier liner bags, which are fantastically made items, fitting the panniers absolutely perfectly. These allow the contents of the panniers to be lifted straight out and carried, with a shoulder strap should it be necessary, into the tent or B&B. They also stop the contents of the panniers rubbing against the aluminium and turning black, as the aluminium panniers are not anodised, tut tut BMW!

RKA Bag Liner
RKA pannier liner, LHS


And then, of course, there's the all important compass. I've chosen to go down the map and compass route rather than GPS, so I'll let you know how I get on. As Doug Wothke said on one of the Horizons Unlimited DVDs, "I see the best things getting lost"

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